Ok, this is not really about the history of the limousine
but rather a short history of Mike and my tandem bicycle (long, black and
beautiful machine) for the purpose of a gift for Brandon and Rachael’s upcoming
marriage. We hope they enjoy it as much as we do.
The Limo was inspired by Mike along with my technical
knowledge of bicycling and soon to come “captaining” expertise in early 1984. I
had just graduated from college and Mike had just begun with his first
“start-up” company (Finial Technology) and we also just decided to room
together in Silicon Valley. Also, I had attempted to learn to ski that season
and Mike’s idea may have been – “You learn my sport, how about I give yours a
spin.” We checked out numerous options and the best seemed to be to have a
custom made tandem bicycle by Jeff Lyon of LyonSport.
It was either Keith Bontrager (world renowned bicycle frame
builder) or the President of Santana Bicycles who once said or observed,
“Tandem cyclists have the lowest divorce rate of any group, denomination or any
other classification.” I am assuming that is has something to do with teamwork.
Therefore we are lucky enough to give Brandon and Rachael a little teamwork.
Technically we did a couple of things different with
the Limo than most. First, we had it built a little undersized Both Mike and I
are quite tall and we didn’t want to get “stuck” with one another. This turned
out to be a brilliant strategy. Second, we had the rear drum brake control
mounted for the rear rider (the rear rider called the “stoker” and the front
rider is called the “captain”) to give the person in the rear something to do.
I don’t recall ever using it much since we both like FAST. Lastly and this came
as an as needed technical improvement, we placed a bungee cord between the
front and rear pedals to keep the toe-clip cage always in the up position, this
also proved to be quite advantageous especially on uphill starts.
In the beginning: About four months for completion I
remember be very anxious to get started. I didn’t like the tandem at first;
slow to get out the starting block as compared to my racing bike and harder
uphill. We developed our own commands: “Go” meant go, “right foot out” meant we
were going to come to a complete stop, “ease up” meant we were going to change
gears or coast. It just isn’t that complicated. The cool thing as I came to
learn was that someone was always there to talk to or at. Mike and I had
important discussions on the bike, buying a house and his engagement to Jenifer
comes to mind. When buying a house and you want to get a real feel for what a
neighborhood is like – do it on a tandem.
Our maiden Voyage (I think?): Sunnyvale, Palo
Alto and up Kings Canyon Road up to Highway 35 just south of San Francisco, Ann
Turpin and a few other Mike’s cronies were our peloton. Uphill is hell but the
flats and downhill we were king, 25 years ago and I still remember Kings Canyon
Road. It felt like Mike never pedaled uphill.
Some rides to remember:
Tour de San Francisco: Summertime in San
Francisco can truly be frigid. The Tour de San Francisco was 50 kilometer (30
miles) small gathering for some 6000 cyclists. It was our first group ride and
we began somewhere at the rear 5000 to 5500 riders were ahead of us. Did I tell
you it was freezing and all we had were shorts and a t-shirt? They closed the
route to autos this Sunday morning ride. Anyway it was exhilarating and scary
trying to maneuver the limo through this very ambitious crowd and down steep,
slippery and foggy streets. Even though it was classified as a ride, it felt
like the Tour de France itself. Since tandem riding is inherently faster than
single riding cyclists flocked to draft behind the tandem and we were very
popular. I was cold, Mike was cold and the only way to get through this
“ride/race” was to pedal and pedal we did. I remember being on the coast
section which was windy, cold and flat and looking behind to see twenty ore
more riders just catching our draft. We finished in the top 100.
Mike’s driving. Demo ride for the visually
impaired which probably had twenty or so tandems around Livermore and the base
of Mt. Diablo. Easy ride, easy day so it would seem until Mike suggested that
he captain the Limo. We were very far ahead and I thought why not. So on a flat
and straight country road we switched, shaky and unsure we rode a least a
couple of miles and switched back. Later the film crew caught up with us and out
of the back of a pickup truck filmed us closely ahead. I said, “You just missed
Mike driving,” “yea right” said the driver and that is all it took for us to
switch back. We were less shaky and unsure while being filmed.
Nationals make you cry: OK this was a race!
The National or Regional championship in Southern California for the visually
impaired. It was a race and it felt like a race, adrenalin pumping,
concentration flowing serious race. Staggered start (I guess you don’t want a
bunch of blinks starting a race side-by-side). We get our start signal and Mike
jetted onto the saddle and pedaled forward like a wild-man, the force so fierce
it slammed my groin onto my saddle so hard that instantly water flowed from my
eyes; there really wasn’t time to cry just pedal. We finished second and I
finished clack and blue.
“Gotta get one for my brother”: Ambitious ride
from Santa Cruz to Big Sur well over 100 miles. We started in Santa Cruz and
stopped in Monterey to pick up my friends from France Gato, Diane and Sue. Gato
rode his bike with us while Diane and Sue drove their auto. The Pacific Coast
is one of the most majestic places on earth especially Monterey to Big Sur,
Just south of Carmel you pass Clint Eastwood’s estate called Mal Paso Heights
(also the name of his production company) the views are spectacular. Modestly
rolling highway and hills overlooking the spectacular Pacific Ocean. Good tail
winds while heading south and dangerous crosswinds at the bottom of most turns.
It is easy to get 50+ mile an hour downhill with beautiful sweeping turns
before your next climb. Diane and Sue parked at the grocery store as the rest
of us proceeded to Phiefer Big Sur State Park. At the gate the ranger said,
“Beautiful bike, where did you ride from?” Small talk ensued and then we set
camp in the majestic redwoods of one of California’s most beautiful
I left the park solo to ride back and get Diane and Sue,
upon seeing me leave alone on the tandem the ranger said, “where are going?” I
responded to get a girl.” “Sure you are,” he said. Ten minutes later I have
returned with the drop dead gorgeous Diane on the back of the tandem. “Damn,”
he said. I left Diane at our campground and once again passed the ranger
station, “now where are you going.” “Gotta get one for my brother.” PS
the ranger came to our camp to party that night.
Are you nuts? Eureka, CA to Sunnyvale, CA.
Beginning on the Northern coast of California and ending in our home town of
Sunnyvale (all in all about 7 days and over 700 miles). This was a group ride
so there were several tandems; Jennifer captained their tandem on this trip as
well. Highway 1 North of San Francisco is more narrow than going south on
Highway 1 from San Francisco. What makes this rides nuts is not the time or
distance but having to share the road with logging trucks. A remarkable section
was Legget, 5 steep, retched miles up and fifteen gracious miles down. What was
quite memorable about this section is that Mike cranked hard up and gave the
downhill section to Jerry Kuns. I wouldn’t have given up the downhill after the
up for love nor money. We camped, ate and had a sag-wagon – now that’s a
OH Tahoe or give me a brake: It is eighty five
miles around Lake Tahoe, 5000 foot altitude. We were the only tandem on this
trip, Ron Salviolo (Mike’s skiing guide partner) Curtis Fong a local radio disc
jockey and a few others. We started at South Shore and only after a few miles
we had to stop for breakfast. Eating vast quantities is one of the great joys
of distance riding but a few miles (give me a brake). Not too long after that
Curtis started complaining that his tires weren’t “rolling right” so in North
shore we had to stop again so that Curtis could buy and replace his tires
(Curtis give me a brake). Somewhere in North Shore Ron suggested that he
captain the tandem and I switch to my Black Bike (a sleek unpretentious
beautiful racing bike) I thought ‘cool’, Ron is a good ski guide so he must be
a good tandem captain. Also, it would give me a chance to truly beet the fancy
bike and pretty shirt wearing Curtis. Wrong, Ron wasn’t a good captain and I am
certain that Mike felt nervous after three nervous and shaky starts by Ron. All
is good, Mike and Ron are rolling along, and now I can hunt down the fancy bike
Curtis who might be as far as three to five miles ahead. I am cranking,
out-pacing some cars, blasting ahead maybe thirty miles and yet I never come
across our group or Curtis. So I wait and after sometime I hear an ambulance
and the only thought is that Mike and Ron crashed. I race back 15 miles, no
bike accidents so I continue the ride back around the Lake. The sag-wagon found
me and said they took a different route and that Ron was too pooped to continue
(just happened to be on the uphill section) so I switched back to finish the
ride with Mike. Great ride except it took me a 100+ to do an eighty five mile
ride. Give me a brake!
There are many other Joyous rides but due to my age I can’t
remember them all. Mike and I never fought while on the tandem and rarely
fought off either.
A Great stoker is a thing of joy but it is important to try
both roles. Eating plenty is a must and a sag-wagon is blessing. But most of
all – Teamwork is paramount. Enjoy!
Patrick and Mike July, 2009
Mike wasn’t always my favorite partner, Diane Bryant (1987)
former Miss Sacramento and former roommate. Currently Diane is Senior Vice
President of Engineering for Intel Corporation. Tandem riders are smart and